By Tamas Mondovics

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was pleased to celebrate the graduation of a number of its law enforcement K-9s last month.

The ceremony officiated by the agency’s newly appointed Sheriff, Colonel Chad Chronister, was held at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Aviation and Canine Unit, located at 5808 Wilkins Rd. in Tampa.

The event also welcomed three Citrus County Sheriff’s Office handlers and their K-9 partners.

The HCSO group included Corporal Danny Connell and K-9 Ceasar, Deputy Matt Moyer and K-9 Tanto and handler Deputy Jessica Ennis.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office units included Deputy John Behnen and K-9 Krennic, Deputy David Miller and K-9 Anakin and Deputy TJ Amato and K-9 Calum.

The handlers and their K-9s graduated from the basic 480-hour canine certification course as well as a 100-hour narcotics or bomb enhancement course.

The agency is proud of its K-9 Unit that includes about 24 dogs along with their deputy handlers.

The law enforcement K-9s include German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois Mix, Bloodhounds, and a Labrador Retriever.

Each dog has a specialty, such as bomb or narcotics detection or fugitive apprehension. Bloodhounds are used primarily for tracking and missing persons cases. A dog joins the Sheriff’s Office when it is between 1-3 years old.

Once certified, the canine is given its own Sheriff’s Office personal identification number and badge. The dogs are a treasured part of the Sheriff’s Office and any law enforcement agency.

State laws help protect law enforcement canines by making it a felony to injure or kill a police dog.

“These dogs are not just working members of HCSO but are our family,” said Colonel Larry McKinnon. “We owe it to them to do everything possible to protect them while they are in harm’s way. They are trained to protect our deputies and citizens of Hillsborough County.”

For more information about HCSO, please visit

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